SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin said Kai Sotto must return to the Philipines and train with the Gilas Pilipinas pool if he wants to be part of team in the coming international competitions.
"To be part of that team, you have to be integrated, and to be integrated to that team, you have to be in the training," the Baldwin told Radyo5's Power and Play with Noli Eala on Saturday.
Sotto begged off from participating in the Gilas training bubble at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, which has been running for two weeks now.
Baldwin pointed out that Sotto initially wanted to join the team but there are still things that the SBP needs to clear with the former UAAP Juniors MVP's handlers, on top of the federation putting their focus on the current pool of cadets.
"He has a willingness to come. I guess I'm the problem now, if you will, because my stance is the stance of the coach, and my stance is developing the team," he said.
That doesn't mean that the window is closed for Sotto.
"I have some conditions [for Kai]," said Baldwin. "For Kai to have the best experience here, he needs to be part of the training for no less than three weeks. This is a condition, it might be four, it might be two, and we have to continue to talk to Kai and his people and see what his schedule looks like and find for a solution, but it really, genuinely needs to be the best solution for Kai as the basketball player and the team.
"He has to be integrated to the team or else, he's gonna detract from their performance if he doesn't know the systems we're running."
Baldwin says having Sotto suit up for Gilas without at least several weeks training with the team will only make him look bad in the eyes of international scouts.
"If Kai comes back and plays for the team but doesn't train with us, I think he's going on the court and look bad. And I don't think that's fair to him and his prospects because nobody kids themselves, NBA coaches are watching everything that Kai does.
"If he comes back and plays, they're gonna watch how he performs against Korea or in the next level in the OQT," he said.
Gilas is preparing for the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Clark in June, the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade in July, and the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia in August.